Sextortion (sexual extortion) scams

How to identify and report sextortion scams, and what to do if you are a victim.

Sextortion (or sexual extortion) is a form of sexual exploitation involving online blackmail. If you are a victim of sextortion, you’re not alone and help is available.

Sextortion is a crime. Victoria Police treats all reports of sextortion very seriously.

About sextortion (sexual extortion)

Sextortion(opens in a new window) is when someone tricks or coerces you into sending them your compromising, sexual, or intimate images or videos. 

This person then threatens to share that content unless you meet their demands. This is blackmail, and their demands may include:

  • even more compromising, sexual, or intimate images or videos
  • payment to stop sharing images, or
  • sexual favours.

Victims of sextortion scams

Anyone can become a victim of sextortion, but children are often targeted.

All it requires is online access. 

Recognising the warning signs of sextortion in children

Signs that an online predator is scamming or targeting your child can include:

  • finding pornography on your child's computer
  • your child receiving phone calls from people you do not know
  • your child calling numbers you do not recognise
  • your child spending a large amount of time on the internet
  • your child receiving gifts or mail from people you do not know
  • your child changing the screen or turning the computer off when you enter the room
  • your child becoming withdrawn or displaying behavioural problems. This includes unexplained increase in levels of fear, anxiety or anger
  • a drop in your child’s school performance or grades
  • self-harming ideations or actions
  • unexplained sense of urgency to leave home or meet someone.

Protect yourself against sextortion scams

Some advice that may protect you and your family against sextortion include:

  • being aware of how and why people fall for sextortion scams
  • discuss online safety with a family or support member
  • understand that if you fall for a sextortion scam, you are not at fault.

Tips to reduce the threat of sextortion scams

It's important to remember anything sent and stored online hackers can potentially access. Always bear in mind any intimate and sexual image and video may be stored and used in future. 

To reduce the threat of sextortion and image-based sexual offending

  • cover cameras on digital devices with a sticker or tape when you are not using it
  • avoid uploading compromising, intimate or sexual photos or videos
  • consider what data you store on your mobile phone or send via social media
  • be aware that online dating profiles and any other online profile can be fake
  • be careful what you send online to anyone, even if you have met them in person
  • do not send compromising, intimate or sexual photos or videos of yourself to anyone
  • review your social media privacy settings and make sure they’re as private as possible
  • protect children by keeping all computer/phone use to common family areas
  • install parental controls on mobile devices to prevent calls or texts to strangers.

If you are the victim of a sextortion scam

If you fall for a sextortion scam, you are a victim.

It is not your fault, and it is nothing to feel embarrassed or ashamed about.

Reinforce this message with children. Encourage them to talk about their concerns or suspicious interactions.

What to do if you are being scammed

Tips that can help if you are a victim in sextortion scam:

  • stop the chat
  • take screenshots of the text and profile. Do not save or share intimate, illegal, or restricted content with anyone under 18
  • block the account
  • report the offence to both the platform and to police.

What not to do if you are being scammed

What not to do if you are a victim in sextortion scam:

  • send more images
  • pay or send gift cards
  • respond to demands
  • enter into further communication
  • think you're alone.

How to report a sextortion scam

You can report a sextortion (sexual extortion) scam a variety of ways.

If you are under 18 or reporting for a child

Report the matter to the Australian Centre To Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE)(opens in a new window).

If you are 18 or older and need to make a report

If the victim is an adult, you have the following reporting options:

How Victoria Police can help you

Victoria Police takes sextortion crime seriously. Anyone who contacts the police is treated with respect, courtesy and dignity.

If you are a victim of sextortion, police can:

  • investigate who is responsible for scamming you
  • get a protection order. This will tell the person to stop doing things like
    • approaching you
    • contacting you
    • monitoring you
    • sharing your images
  • take a report of your complaint or help you in seeking further support if you do not wish to make a formal report
  • connect you with Community Liaison officer to provide support during the reporting process.

Tools and resources

Explore online tools and educational resources available to combat sextortion scams: